The anti-protest bubble zone around Kelowna Fur Town, an Okanagan fur retailer, has been set aside.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and BCCLA president Craig Jones applied before Mr. Justice Skipp of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to set aside paragraph (a) of an injunction granted by Mr. Justice Metzger in Kelowna earlier this month. The paragraph had forbidden any person from coming within 50 feet of the front door of Fur-Town’s retail operations. The injunction was designed to prevent protesters, who had protested the fur trade outside the store since 1999, from coming within the bubble zone.
At the hearing on Friday morning in Vancouver, John Dives (appearing for The BCCLA and Jones) submitted that the injunction ought to be set aside and replaced by one that was still effective to enjoin physical interference with the store’s operation, but did not impede lawful protest. The terms of the revised injunction were agreed upon by counsel for Kelowna Fur Town and by Monika Penner, the protester named in the action as a defendant.
The outcome was the result of a concession by Kelowna Fur Town in light of the BCCLA’s application. “In the end, because the store agreed with our proposed terms, it was not necessary for the court to decide our application on the merits of the constitutional argument we had prepared. The new injunction does not in any way restrict lawful protest outside the store,” said Dives.
The BCCLA hopes that the attention that had been focused on the Kelowna Fur-Town case raises awareness about the right to protest. ”
We hope that lawyers will be more reluctant to seek, and courts will be more reluctant to grant, these kind of anti-protest injunctions. The BCCLA remains prepared to apply to the courts to set aside any injunction which unreasonably infringes on the core expression rights of British Columbians,” said Dives.
The BCCLA had, through Dives, made an intervention in a review of a similar bubble zone injunction granted last year in the Elaho Valley logging dispute. That injunction too was set aside.
As to Kelowna Fur Town’s lawsuit against protesters that led to the injunction in the first place, Jones confirmed the BCCLA’s continuing interest. “We are concerned whenever it is alleged that protesters are being sued simply because of their protesting. We will be watching this case with a great deal of interest and expect the parties to move quickly to a hearing on the merits of the matter,” Jones said.